Cotopaxi volcano
Cotopaxi volcano
Hummingbirds in Mindo and pelicans in Isabela
Hummingbirds in Mindo and pelicans in Isabela

Ecuador and Galapagos Experience

12 nights from £3,229 per person Including Flights

Overview

Start exploring Ecuador’s mainland on this 12-night adventure filled with volcanoes, canyons, vast tropical rainforests and waterfalls, finishing in the breathtaking Galapagos Islands. The islands offer endless opportunities to get up close to see the wildlife and explore the islands that are unique in their own way. Enjoy hiking, swimming, snorkelling, exploring lava tubes and national parks all in 13 days. (AJ).

Please note that this itinerary is on a fixed departure basis and is private guided on the mainland of Ecuador and the experiences in Galapagos will be on a join in basis.

Highlights

  • Discover Quito on a guided city tour followed by a cooking lesson for your lunch
  • Stand on both sides of the hemisphere at the same time at the equator monument complex
  • Witness and learn how to make chocolate at a distributor
  • Stay overnight and explore the Mindo Cloud Forest, seeing the beautiful birds and butterflies that live here
  • Hike the rim of an active volcano before taking a boat trip on the lake to the crater centre
  • Snorkel with sea lions at La Loberia beach and visit the island of Isla Lobos or Kicker Rock to see frigate birds, manta, more sea lions and the famous blue-footed boobies.
  • Learn about conservation at the Charles Darwin Research Station
  • Visit the El Chato reserve in the highlands of Santa Cruz, hike through the landscape with the famous Galapagos tortoises, an unforgettable experience.
  • Day trip on a boat island hopping in search of more wildlife and snorkel the crystal-clear waters
Whats included?
  • Flights & taxes
  • Accommodation
  • Transfers
  • Checked baggage
  • ATOL protection
  • In resort assistance & 24 hour contact centre
Why Book with Tropical Sky?
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  • Choice of airlines and the option to switch
  • A friendly, family run business with a wealth of experience.
  • Great deals on offer for multiple destinations
  • No amendment fees
  • Low deposits
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Day 1

Quito

Wlecome to Quito! On arrival you'll be met and transferred to your hotel to check in. Depending on your arrival time, you may have time to explore this preserved colonial city - declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. The city is considered the Cultural Capital of South America and is located on the equator in a valley at the foothills of the Pichincha volcano. Meet your tour leader and the rest of the group this evening in a welcome meeting at 18:00 in the hotel lobby. At this time, you can discuss the details and questions you may have regarding the adventure.

Overnight: Standard - Swissotel Quito | Superior - Hotel Boutique Carlota (Dinner Included)

Day 2

Quito

After breakfast enjoy a city tour, exploring the narrow streets in the old town visiting important monuments such as: La Basilica church, la Compania De Jesus gold church, the main independence square, Cathedral church and el Panecillo natural lookout of the city. Afterwards you will visit the nearby markets with a local expert to buy local products such as vegetables, fruits, grains etc for lunch. You will help prepare your lunch with a knowledgeable local cook who will introduce you to the best flavours of the Ecuador Andean Highlights.

Overnight: Standard - Swissotel Quito | Superior - Hotel Boutique Carlota (Breakfast and lunch included)

Day 3

Quito to Mindo Cloud Forest

Today your adventure begins by driving north to witness the equator monument complex, where you are able to stand on both sides of the hemisphere at the same time, visiting the middle of the world is a must! On your way you will stop to view the Pululahua crater, which is the third largest inhabited volcanic crater in the world, home to more than 400 people. Your next stop is the little town of Mindo, nestled into the cloud forest filled with a wide variety of plants and animal life. A great introduction to the diversity of Ecuador and a birdwatcher’s paradise for hummingbirds.

In the afternoon you will visit a chocolate distributor for a guided tour to learn the process of the cocoa, from harvesting the seed to its final product, a delicious bar of chocolate.

Overnight: Standard - Septimo Paraiso Lodge | Superior -  Kapari Lodge (Breakfast included)

Day 4

Mindo Cloud Forest

Explore the pristine cloud rainforest of Mindo by crossing cable cars, hiking along waterfalls surrounded by lush green forest filled with the iconic toucans and hummingbirds. In the afternoon you have some free time to explore on your own or join an optional excursion such as; white-water rafting, tubing through thrilling rapids or zipline over the beautiful canopy of the cloud forest. A highlight of the day is a visit to the butterfly nursery where you will watch gargantuan butterflies dry their wings after emerging from their cocoons.

Overnight: Standard - Septimo Paraiso Lodge | Superior - Kapari Lodge (Breakfast included)

Day 5

Mindo Cloud Forest & Otavalo market

Your adventure continues by driving back into the highlands and reaching the Pan-American Highway to the famous indigenous town of Otavalo. Upon arrival you have some time to stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets, visit the market for colourful textiles, native paintings, ceramics, jewellery, tapestries and handicrafts made by the locals.

This afternoon you will drive to Cotacachi to witness the impressive leather goods the town has to offer whilst enjoying the beauty of this small village. Here you have some free time to explore the shops or sit people watching whilst sipping one of the best coffees in Ecuador in the main plaza.
Later you will arrive at the beautiful, historical Hacienda Pinsaqui where you will be greeted with a typical Andean cocktail and learn the history of the place.

Overnight: Standard - Hacienda Pinsaqui | Superior - Hacienda Cusin (Breakfast and dinner included)

Day 6

Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve & Papallacta Hot Springs

Your first stop of the day will be to Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve to see the breathing scenery of the crystal-clear waters of the active volcano and surrounding area. You will hike the hour long walk along the rim of the Cuicocha Crater lake to join a boat ride to the centre of the crater to observe the bubbling waters of the volcano.

Later you will travel to the small village of Peguche, located in the heart of the Andes. You will help the local people prepare a delicious lunch using fresh produce harvested the same day from the surrounding organic fields. Late afternoon you will reach the luxury volcanic hot springs resort of Papallacta, where you have the chance to relax in the open-air hot springs whilst being surrounded by the majestic Andean mountains.

Overnight: Standard - Papallacta Spa & Resort | Superior - Papallacta Spa & Resort (Breakfast and lunch included)

Day 7

Cotopaxi Volcano National Park to Quito

Drive south on the Pan-American Highway to Cotopaxi, highest active volcano in the world. The snow-capped volcano is surrounded by the national park, home to and abundant of plant life, rich in fauna and Inca ruins. You begin your visit at the interpretation centre at the entrance of the park, before continuing your drive across the paramo to Limpiopungo lake. Observe a variety of birds and stunning views of the symmetrical cone of Cotopaxi volcano during a short walk around the lake. Afterwards, drive to Quito for dinner.

Overnight: Standard - Dann Carlton Hotel | Superior - Hotel Boutique Carlota (Breakfast included)

Day 8

Quito to Galapagos Islands

Today board a morning flight from Quito to the Island of Baltra, Galápagos Islands, about 600 miles from Ecuador’s coast. Upon arrival, you'll transfer by the Lobito bus to the nearby island of Santa Cruz and cross the narrow Itabaca channel by water taxi, continuing on to the highlands, home to the iconic giant Galápagos tortoises. While here visit a private ranch for lunch and go for a stroll to try and find these gentle giants. The famous tubes (formed when the surface of a lava stream solidifies) will also be a highlight of our tour. This afternoon take a private transfer to the hotel and meet your local guide who will explain the itinerary for the next few days. Spend the evening however you please.

Overnight: Standard - Hotel Silberstein | Superior - Finch Bay Eco Hotel (Breakfast and lunch included)

Day 9

Galapagos Islands – Isla Lobos Island

Following a delicious breakfast, we’ll set off on a half-day tour of Academy Bay (you’ll need to pack for this trip). Snorkeling equipment will be provided free of charge to anyone wishing to snorkel. During the tour, we’ll sail to Academy Bay and swim and snorkel with sea lions and exotic marine life. The sea lions may swim next to you underwater! Academy Bay is also home to blue-footed boobies, so prepare to see lots of those.
Next, we’ll climb to a viewpoint and keep an eye out for white-tipped reef sharks swimming in the ocean below, before strolling along Playa de los Perros where sea iguanas are known to sunbathe on the shores. The enormous cacti, the ochre-red colour of the rocks and the turquoise waters make it a great place for taking photos.
 

Overnight: Standard - Hotel Silberstein | Superior - Finch Bay Eco Hotel (Breakfast and box lunch included)

Day 10

Galapagos Islands – Santa Cruz Island

The morning will be spent on a guided tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station, learning about the national park’s efforts concerning conservation and meeting the famous lonesome George, a figure of the last male Pinta Island tortoise – the rarest creature in the world before his death in 2012.
In the afternoon we’ll take a transfer from the hotel to the dock of Santa Cruz before boarding a boat to the island of San Cristóbal (the journey is approximately 2.5 hours). Upon arrival, meet with a local guide who will explain the exciting itinerary, before spending the evening at leisure.

Overnight: Standard - Hotel Blue Marlin | Superior - Hotel Golden Bay (Breakfast included)

Day 11

Galapagos Islands – San Cristobal Island - Isla Lobos Tour

After breakfast head to the dock and take a boat ride to the nearby Isla Lobos. En route, feast your eyes upon extraordinary marine life. When we arrive, we’ll take a guided tour and observe Frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, manta rays, sea lions and maybe even sharks.
San Cristóbal’s powdery beaches invite endless wandering, so make sure you go for a swim before returning to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

Overnight: Standard - Hotel Blue Marlin | Superior - Hotel Golden Bay (Breakfast and box lunch included)

Day 12

Galapagos Island Hopping

Today you are free to explore the island at leisure.

Alternatively, you can opt to take a boat to Kicker Rock, also known as the ‘Sleeping Lion’. Kicker Rock is located off the coast of San Cristóbal and forms the remains of a lava cone eroded by the sea. It consists of two vertical rocks rising 500 ft (150m) above the ocean to form a small channel navigable by small boats. Kicker Rock is home to Frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies and beneath it, you’ll find crystal-clear waters filled with kaleidoscopic fish (such as rainbow fish, hammerhead and white tip sharks). After lunch relax on the beach for a while before making your way back to the hotel.

Overnight: Standard - Hotel Blue Marlin | Superior - Hotel Golden Bay (Breakfast included)

Day 13

Galapagos Islands – Guayaquil

After breakfast, transfer back to Baltra’s airport for your flight back to Guayaquil on the mainland to catch your international flight home.

Breakfast included

  • International and internal flights
  • Airport transfers for international and internal flights
  • 12 nights of hotel accommodation
  • 12 breakfast, 6 lunches, 2 dinners
  • Snorkelling mask and fins and walking sticks for the visit to Cotopaxi National Park
  • English speaking local guides and naturalist local guides in the Galapagos Islands
  • Activities mentioned in itinerary

What’s Not Included:

  • INGALA transit card: $20 per person (cash only)
  • Galapagos National Park fee: $100 per person (cash only)
  • Pier fee $5.00 per person
  • Optional activities as mentioned

Due to the Galapagos’ close proximity to the equator, the sun is incredibly strong – please ensure you are well-prepared with sunscreen, a sun hat, sunglasses and a rash guard if necessary.

Nicola Grey
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